Tuesday, September 05, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR TUESDAY, September 5, 2006 Photo: Danish soldiers carry the body of one of two British soldiers killed in a roadside bomb attack near Basra in southern Iraq, September 4, 2006. (Atef Hassan/Reuters) (See below "A British Harbinger Of American Defeat") Bring 'em on: Two U.S. Marines and one sailor were killed in fighting in Iraq's restive Anbar province, the U.S. military command said Tuesday. (…) The three U.S. troops, all assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5, died on Monday "due to enemy action," the military said in a statement. It did not provide any further details. Their identities were not released pending notification of their families. The deaths brought to eight the number of American troops killed in Iraq in combat-related violence over the past two days. Bring 'em on: A British soldier was shot and seriously wounded in Qurna north of Basra in southern Iraq. OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS Baghdad: Gunmen killed three Shi'ite pilgrims in the southern Baghdad district of Doura while they were walking to a religious ceremony in Kerbala. Police said they found the bodies of seven people in Baghdad with gunshot wounds to the head, five of them in the area of Adhamiya, where insurgents are active. Karbala: Iraqi soldiers clashed Monday with gunmen near the holy city of Karbala [in Musayyib] during an operation to secure the area ahead of a religious festival on Saturday, leaving 14 gunmen and one soldier dead.
The Iraqi Defense Ministry said that over the previous 24 hours, its troops had killed 15 people suspected of involvement in insurgent activities. Iraqi police said clashes between gunmen and Iraqi forces in Musayyib, 40 miles south of Baghdad, resulted in the death of an Iraqi soldier and the arrest of about 100 gunmen.
A controversial Shiite cleric was abducted late Monday in the southern Iraqi holy city of Karbala, according to reports citing his colleagues. Armed men stormed two houses and kidnapped five men including Ayatollah Mahmoud al-Hassani. The others taken included two of his aides and two bodyguards, the sources said. It was not immediately clear if the abductions were politically motivated or for ransom. Supporters of al-Hassani fought street battles last month with Iraqi police. Al-Hassani opposes the presence of US troops in Iraq and has criticized what he considers neighbouring Iran's undue influence on Iraqi politics. He at first supported radical Shiite militia leader Moqtada al-Sadr after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime, but the two split over al-Sadr insistence on holding sole leadership over their group. Suwayra: The bodies of five blindfolded men with multiple gunshot wounds and signs of torture were pulled from the Tigris River near Suwayra, a town south of Baghdad. Baqubah: A mortar barrage hit a village near Baquba, killing two civilians and wounding seven others. Gunmen fired on a police patrol, killing three policemen, and two civilians died in separate drive-by shootings, Diyala province police said. Bani Saad: Several mortar rounds landed on the town of Bani Sa'ad near Baquba, killing a civilian and wounded 14 others. Latifiya: Gunmen killed one Shi'ite pilgrim and wounded three others near Latifiya, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, as they were going to Kerbala to attend a religious ceremony. Samarra: A car bomb parked near a house exploded, injuring a family of five in Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad,. When people nearby ran to help the family, another bomb exploded within minutes, killing three people. Mosul: Two people were wounded by an explosion in a house about midnight in eastern Mosul, about 225 miles northwest of Baghdad. Police said that when they arrived at the scene, they found weapons including hand grenades, mortar rounds and rocket-propelled grenades. Taqaddum: American patrols around Taqaddum have come under attack twice in the last three days, the Marine logistics base has been hit by almost nightly rocket and mortar attacks for three weeks and the Marines have taken significant casualties. (See below "In Anbar, Another Pointless Killing") >> NEWS Iraqi parliament voted to extend the state of emergency for a month: The state of emergency has been in place for almost two years and covers every region except the autonomous Kurdish region in the north. Sunni Arab lawmaker Saleh al-Mutlaq held a conference with the heads of Iraqi tribes and called upon the leader of the Kurds in the north to reconsider their decision to replace the Iraqi flag with the Kurdish one. The decision by Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish region, last week has angered many in Baghdad. The Kurdish region gradually has been gaining more autonomy since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, a worrying development to many Iraqi leaders, especially Sunni Arabs.
The U.S. ambassador weighed in to a row over dropping Iraq's Saddam-era flag that has prompted talk of secession by ethnic Kurds. President Jalal Talabani, himself a Kurd, said there must be a new flag. "Unilateral steps by regions or parties on this issue are inappropriate and do not have the support of the United States," U.S. envoy to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad said, adding that Washington was committed to "Iraq's unity and territorial integrity." U.S. ally Turkey, as well as Iran and Syria, worry their own Kurdish minorities want to emulate Iraqi Kurds' wide autonomy. The Kurdish regional government has banned the use of the Iraqi flag on public buildings as a symbol of oppression under Saddam Hussein. Maliki has demanded the use of the national tricolour and said only parliament can decide on a new flag, but his spokesman said designing a new flag was now a priority. But some Sunni leaders spoke out in defense of the old one.
Iraq's president forecast on Tuesday that British troops could go home by the end of next year: Asked after meeting Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett for a date when some 7,000 British troops could leave Iraq, Talabani said: "In my personal opinion, by the end of 2007." By then, he hoped, Iraqi forces would be strong enough to deal with any remaining violence. He dismissed talk of civil war, a phrase newly fashionable among senior U.S. officials, as exaggerated, saying most Iraqis supported national unity. Beckett stressed London had no date in mind for troops pulling out and said the 2007 timeframe was Talabani's personal opinion. >> REPORTS Iraq's inflation rate has soared to reach nearly 70 percent, the country's planning minister said Sunday. The inflation rate from July 2005 to July 2006 stood at 69.6 percent, Ali Baban said. "This indicates that inflation not just increased, but it is out of control," he said. Baban said prices had increased in all goods used to measure inflation, including food, fuel, transport, medical services and drugs, clothing, property, furniture and other essential goods. DAHR JAMAIL: U.S. LOSING CONTROL FAST The U.S. military has lost control over the volatile al-Anbar province, Iraqi police and residents say. The area to the west of Baghdad includes Fallujah, Ramadi and other towns that have seen the worst of military occupation, and the strongest resistance. Despite massive military operations which destroyed most of Fallujah and much of cities like Haditha and al-Qa'im in Ramadi, real control of the city now seems to be in the hands of local resistance. In losing control of this province, the U.S. would have lost control over much of Iraq. "We are talking about nearly a third of the area of Iraq," Ahmed Salman, a historian from Fallujah told IPS. "Al-Anbar borders Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia, and the resistance there will never stop as long as there are American soldiers on the ground." Salman said the U.S. military is working against itself. "Their actions ruin their goal because they use these huge, violent military operations which kill so many civilians, and make it impossible to calm down the people of al-Anbar." The resistance seems in control of the province now. "No government official can do anything without contacting the resistance first," government official in Ramadi Abu Ghalib told IPS. "Even the governor used to take their approval for everything. When he stopped doing so, they issued a death sentence against him, and now he cannot move without American protection." Recent weeks have brought countless attacks on U.S. troops in Haditha, Ramadi, Fallujah and on the Baghdad-Amman highway. Several armoured vehicles have been destroyed, and dozens of U.S. soldiers killed in the al-Anbar province, according to both Iraqi witnesses and the U.S. Department of Defence. Long stretches of the 550km Baghdad-Amman highway which crosses al-Anbar are now controlled by resistance groups. Other parts are targeted by highway looters. "If we import any supplies for the U.S. Army or Iraqi government, the fighters will take it from us and sell it in the local market," trader Hayder al-Mussawi said. "And if we import for the local market, the robbers will take it." Eyewitnesses in Ramadi say many of the attacks are taking place within their city. They say that the U.S. military recently asked citizens in al-Anbar to stop targeting them, and promised to withdraw to their bases in Haditha and Habaniyah (near Fallujah) soon, leaving the cities for Iraqi security forces to patrol. "I do not think that is possible," retired Iraqi police Brigadier-General Kahtan al-Dulaimi from Ramadi told IPS. "I believe no local unit could stand the severe resistance of al-Anbar, and it will be the last province to be handed over to Iraqi security forces." According to the group Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, 964 coalition soldiers have been killed in al-Anbar, more than in any other Iraqi province. Baghdad is second, with 665 coalition deaths. Residents of Ramadi told IPS that the U.S. military has knocked down several buildings near the government centre in the city, the capital of the province. In an apparent move to secure their offices, U.S. Army and Marine engineers have started to level a half-kilometre stretch of low-rise buildings opposite the centre. Abandoned buildings in this area have been used repeatedly to launch attacks on the government complex. "They are trying to create a separation area between the offices of the puppet government and the buildings the resistance are using to attack them," a Ramadi resident said. "But now the Americans are making us all angry because they are destroying our city." U.S. troops have acknowledged their own difficulties in doing this. "We're used to taking down walls, doors and windows, but eight city blocks is something new to us," Marine 1st Lt. Ben Klay, 24, said in the U.S. Department of Defence newspaper Stars and Stripes. In nearby Fallujah, residents are reporting daily clashes between Iraqi-U.S. security forces and the resistance. "The local police force which used to be out of the conflict are now being attacked," said a resident who gave his name as Abu Mohammed. "Hundreds of local policemen have quit the force after seeing that they are considered a legitimate target by fighters." The U.S. forces seem to have no clear policy in the face of the sustained resistance. "The U.S. Army seems so confused in handling the security situation in Anbar," said historian Salman. "Attacks are conducted from al-Qa'im on the Syrian border to Abu Ghraib west of Baghdad, all the way through Haditha, Hit, Ramadi and Fallujah on a daily basis." He added: "A contributing factor to the instability of the province is the endless misery of the civilians who live with no services, no infrastructure, random shootings and so many wrongful detentions." read in full... IN ANBAR, ANOTHER POINTLESS KILLING Desolate doesn't begin to describe this place. The wind is strong, but it's silent because it has nothing to hit. A fine dust coats everything in minutes; Saddam Hussein hid fighter jets in the sand here. About 350 Army National Guardsmen from the pine woods and lakes of west central Minnesota are stationed at Taqaddum (Tack-a-dum), guarding a large Marine Corps logistics center in the heart of western Iraq's arid Sunni Triangle. On Monday, they assembled at the dusty base chapel to remember Staff Sgt. Joshua Hanson, who was killed on Aug. 30 when his Humvee ran over an anti-tank mine. (...) American patrols around Taqaddum have come under attack twice in the last three days, the Marine logistics base has been hit by almost nightly rocket and mortar attacks for three weeks and the Marines have taken significant casualties. (...) Hanson's unit, Company A of the 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry, was sent to join a four-day sweep of a town near Taqaddum. The Guardsmen often served as overwatch, watching the Marines' backs while they were patrolling. Hanson's Humvee was sandwiched between two Bradley fighting vehicles when it ran over the buried anti-tank mine. The improvised explosive device (IED), which had a propane accelerator to make it more powerful, detonated under Hanson, blowing his helmet off, pushing the back seat up and trapping his legs. The four other soldiers in the Humvee were able to get out, and Hanson's fellow Guardsmen, who'd known him for years, rushed to his aid. Sgt. 1st Class James Bakkila, the platoon sergeant, twice tried to pull Hanson out but couldn't. The explosion and fire melted the roof of the Humvee and started setting off some of the 1,800 rounds of ammunition inside. The soldiers put six wounded comrades in a nearby ditch to protect them from sniper fire, which often follows IED attacks, but there was nothing anyone could do for Hanson. "Yeah, he's gone, we've got to get out of here," yelled Staff Sgt. Justin Knopf. An evacuation team headed for the scene and reported hitting two donkeys in the road. When another Guard unit came by less than five minutes later, the Guardsmen noticed wires coming from the donkeys' carcasses. Someone had quickly wired them with explosives. read in full... >> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS IRAQ'S "DEATH SQUADS" REVEALED This piece published by "Quds-Press" reveals the secret behind Iraq's "Death Squads", interviewing a high rank person from Iraqi intelligence who fled Iraq recently. I translated the whole piece, spread the news Start Reading: --------- "Death Squads" in Iraq, a puzzle not solved yet, and the question still who is supporting these groups, funding them, providing them with weapons, money and cover. Perhaps this question will remain one of "the New Iraq" secrets. However, recently, these secrets slowly started to unfold, perhaps it is because the interests of these groups are different, or their "dirty" is no more required. The magic has been turned on the magician. Hence, the talks now become clearer on the participation of these groups in killing Iraqis. Accurate information, obtained by the "Quds Press" on the death squads that roamed the streets of Iraq, the greatest threat to the Iraqi social fabric. Information provided by Sources from "Iraqi Intelligence" revealed what is going on, in the corridors of the Iraqi government. (...) Many Militias formed following the American occupation of Iraq, However, the most serious were the militias of a religious clerics, formed by the strong and religious parties, on sectarian basis, some were in Iran and the other were in Syria, the militias operate under the cloak of sectarian slogans. It started their operations of liquidation and acts of violence. The most dangerous of these militias is "the Badr Brigade" of the "Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution", headed by "Abdel Aziz al-Hakim", they are not a militia, they are an organized army with hierarchy ranks listed as any regular army. They have various "hit unites" conducting unending operations; assassinations, bombings, kidnapping and special teams for arrests. There are evidence confirms that these militias earn huge salaries financed by Iran, and "Sleeping Cells" ready to carry out any operation at any moment. (...) According to the source, this militia is supervised by a team of senior officers of Iran intelligence, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and the "Itila'at", training them in camps inside Iranian and Iraqi territories. Another "death squad". under the name of "Al-Mahdi Army", saying, the speaker of this organization in Baghdad, Abdel-Hadi al-Daraji, was an active member of the "Baath party" with another person named "Abbas Alsaidi", deputy of Al-Sadr "Bahaa Al-Araji", are the managers of this brutal "death squad". The three leaders give the orders of arrest and kidnapping, torture and murder of Sunni Arabs and Baathists Shiites, from the headquarters of the former Iraqi Army. [Baghdad Rusafa (Rashidieh camp and the road to Diyala, the College of the Air Defense, Al-Sha'ab and Hai Al-Basateen), the Army Aviation and prescriptive (Baghdad Al-jadidah, Al-Mashtal and the Husseinieh)] Mahdi Army uses members in the militia from Alcoholics and "drug addicts", thieves, and the ex-prisoners, ex-detainees, as well as low-income people, illiterates to perform these operations. The source said: evidence of the existence of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards who are behind the killings and abduction, of doctors, professors, academics and assaults on the officers from the former Iraqi army. (...) The source asserts that the "death squads" are not limited only to those militias formed by Ahmed Chalabi or some of the leaders of the Shiite parties, but there are groups run by the "Mossad", in relation with Mithal Al-Alosi, who visited Israel. The aim of these gangs is to raise sectarian sedition by targeting Shiites and Sunnis. It also goes to the extent that the task of other "Constitutional Monarchy Movement", led by "Sharif Ali Bin Al-Hussein", sponsored by British intelligence, in addition to small teams from some other Sufi movements. read in full... IRAQ AND ITS ENEMIES Shouldn't we all be interested in what's really going on in Iraq? But this seems to be the point. In the West, too many on the ""left" and in the so-called "anti-war movement" are not interested in reality. Iraq seems to exist just in function of their power games. Too often "peace and justice" have become a business that has nothing to do with the oppressed victims' struggle and all to do instead with the acquisition of privileges and power that neutralizes real dissent and block change. The elites in the "left" and in the antiwar movement have become so obsessed with their own power, with their own "place in society" to be completely indifferent to the facts, to compromise with the perils of rewriting history, conceding points that shouldn't be conceded. For these two subjects, Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army and Iraq Body Count, pass the truth about the horror that the Iraqi People have been forced to live since the new crusaders invaded their country. On both these subjects, vast sectors of the international anti-war movement and the so-called "left" have been silent at best when not actively cooperating with the propaganda machine. I have been attacked many times because I keep asking questions to those who claim to be "on our side". Which side, if I may ask? The only side we all should care is the side of the truth and running after it. The power that be wants us to be ignorant and brainwashed. For that purpose it has lowered the level of political discussion to "we and they", "good and evil". It seems too often that on the so-called "left" too many have been doing the same. read in full... THE WAR IS LOST The Pentagon's latest quarterly "progress" report to Congress on Iraq is a grim tale of a lost war. The Pentagon told Congress what Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and propaganda organs such as Fox "News" never tell the American public, namely: (1) The Sunni-based insurgency remains "potent and viable" despite spiraling Sunni-Shiite violence and beefed up US forces. (2) Since the last report three months ago, Iraqi casualties from "sectarian clashes"--the Pentagon's euphemism for civil war--have soared by more than 50 percent. (3) From May when the new Iraqi government was established until August, the average number of weekly attacks increased sharply to 800. (4) Since the previous report, Iraqi daily casualties have jumped by 50 per cent from 80 per day to 120 per day. Currently, Iraqis are dying at the rate of 43,800 per year from violence. The Iraqi government cowers behind the fortified walls of the "Green Zone." On August 31, the Kurds in the north took down the Iraqi flag and replaced it with the Kurdish one. Most of Iraq is ruled by Shiite and Sunni militias. Conflict between them has forced 160,000 Iraqis to flee their homes. Who is going to tell Bush that the war is lost? read in full... A BRITISH HARBINGER OF AMERICAN DEFEAT Don Rumsfeld is fond of historical analogies when pontificating about Iraq; he particularly favors comparisons to the Nazi era and the Allied occupation of Germany after World War II. Unfortunately, any historian will tell you that Rummy's parallels are invariably false, even ludicrous. So we thought we'd give the beleaguered Pentagon warlord a more accurate and telling analogy to chew on. Try this one, Don. Imagine that British occupation troops in, say, Hanover, had been forced to abandon a major base, under fire, and retreat into guerrilla operations in the Black Forest - in 1948, three years after the fall of the Nazi regime. And that as soon as the Brits made their undignified bug-out, the base had been devoured by looters while the local, Allies-backed authorities simply melted away and an extremist, virulently anti-Western militia moved into the power vacuum. What would they have called that, Don? "Measurable progress on the road to democracy?" "Another achieved metric of our highly successful post-war plan?" Or would they have said, back in those more plain-spoken, Harry Truman days, that it was "a major defeat, a humiliating strategic reversal, foreshadowing a far greater disaster?" You'd have to wait a long time - perhaps to the end of the "Long War" - to get a straight answer from Rumsfeld on that one, but this precise scenario, transposed from Lower Saxony to Maysan province, unfolded in Iraq last week, when British forces abandoned their base at Abu Naji and disappeared into the desert wastes and marshes along the Iranian border. The move was largely ignored by the American media, but the implications are enormous. The UK contingent of the invading coalition has always been the proverbial canary in the mine shaft: if they can't make a go of things in what we've long been told is the "secure south," where friendly Shiites hold absolute sway, then the entire misbegotten Bush-Blair enterprise is well and truly FUBAR. read in full... ALMOST INDISTINGUISHABLE FROM THE ORIGINAL The Boston Globe reported yesterday:
Maine National Guard members in Iraq and Afghanistan are never far from the thoughts of their loved ones. Now, thanks to a popular family-support program, they're even closer. Welcome to the "Flat Daddy" and "Flat Mommy" phenomenon, in which life-size cutouts of deployed service members are given by the Maine National Guard to spouses, children and relatives back home. The Flat Daddies ride in cars, sit at the dinner table, visit the dentist and even are brought to confession, according to their significant others on the home front. "I prop him up in a chair, or sometimes put him on the couch and cover him up with a blanket," said Kay Judkins of Caribou, Maine, whose husband, Jim, is a minesweeper mechanic in Afghanistan. "The cat will curl up on the blanket, and it looks kind of weird. I've tricked several people by that. They think he's home again." At the request of relatives, about 200 Flat Daddy and Flat Mommy photos have been enlarged and printed at the state National Guard headquarters in Augusta, Maine. The families cut out the photos, which show the Guard members from the waist up, and glue them to a $2 piece of foam board.
Today, a brilliant Daily Kos diary by the infamous Dood Abides (also posted here and here) offers the perfect satirical response:
Taking a cue from the Maine National Guard's successful "Flat Daddy" program, the White House today revealed its successful ongoing "Flat Leader" program. In a time of war, when resources and manpower are scarce, the White House stated that it was proud to add to and expand its support for the Maine National Guard's program as well as all servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan. The program has placed life-size cardboard cutouts of key American leaders within each and every regiment currently serving in both countries. . . . "Flat Leaders" are expected to begin appearing within the next two weeks at key Republican fundraisers and in increasing frequency across America on the approach of the November elections.
I am a little confused, though. I feel like the cardboard versions of Dubya, Big Dick, Rummy, et al. have actually been on public display for quite some time... link >> BEYOND IRAQ Afghanistan: U.S. artillery and air strikes killed as many as 60 suspected Taliban militants Tuesday, the fourth day of a NATO-led offensive in southern Afghanistan, a NATO spokesman said. The U.S. troops, operating under NATO command, clashed with the militants in the Panjwayi district of Kandahar province, where an offensive began over the weekend to flush out hundreds of Taliban fighters. NATO already has reported more than 200 Taliban killed in the operation. Nearly every British newspaper Friday carried photos of the assassination of President Bush -- or at least the eerily realistic depiction of it from a new documentary-style television film that is causing an uproar in Britain. The film, "Death of a President," has been alternatively derided as a tasteless publicity grab and defended as a serious look at a plausible event that could have dramatic ramifications for the world. "It's a disturbing film," said Peter Dale, head of More4, the television channel that will broadcast the film next month, after its Sept. 10 premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. "It raises questions about the effects of American foreign policy, and particularly the war on terror," said Dale, who denied criticism that the film made an anti-Bush or anti-American political statement. "It's a fairly attention-grabbing premise, but behind that is a serious and thought-provoking film." In the film, Bush is assassinated by a sniper after making a speech in Chicago in October 2007. The investigation immediately centers on a Syrian-born gunman, and a shocked nation confronts the war on terror in the post-Bush era. read in full... PLANET OF THE ARABS A trailer-esque montage spectacle of Hollywood's relentless vilification and dehumanization of Arabs and Muslims. Inspired by the book "Reel Bad Arabs" by Dr. Jack Shaheen. Official selection of the Sundance Film Festival 2005 Out of 1000 films that have Arab & Muslim characters (from the year 1896 to 2000) 12 were postive depictions, 52 were even handed and the rest of the 90O and so were negative. 09/04/06 Video Runtime 9 Minutes link QUOTE OF THE DAY: "The story of America, whether as Empire or as superpower, is one of man's penchant for absolute power, and how that power corrupts absolutely, as always without fail, along with man's quest to continuously expand the power, wealth and reach of the tribe, usually at the behest of the leader(s), as always thanks to our inability to control our ingrained mammalian behaviors and psychology that, inasmuch as we would like to discard from our condition, remain deeply entrenched in our psyches and in our human-primate nature" -- Manuel Valenzuela


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